‘Evil Dead Rise’ Non-Spoiler Review

Evil Dead is without a doubt one of the most beloved horror franchises ever made. In recent years it has started to move from being simply a cult, fan-favorite series to more mainstream, but with each new entry has never lost sight of the things that make it so special: over-the-top blood, guts, and gore, with a bit of humor. The latest entry by writer/director Lee Cronin, titled: EVIL DEAD RISE, is no exception.

40 years after the original Evil Dead by Sam Raimi hit theaters and just 10 years after Fede Alvarez’s half reboot, half sequel, Evil Dead Rise is set to unleash upon unsuspecting victims, fans and general audiences alike, on April 21st. I was immensely blessed with the opportunity to attend an advance press screening this week, and let me tell you, as a MASSIVE fan of this entire franchise, I was NOT disappointed. If anything, my already very high expectations were exceeded.  

Whether you’re a casual fan or hardcore fan of the series, the horror genre, or just a general audience member, Evil Dead Rise is sure to be an enjoyable wild ride for everyone. Well, everyone except for the weak-stomached and faint of heart. If you’re not looking to be truly terrified and have the limits of how far you can be grossed out before having to run to the bathroom tested, you may want to watch something that’s a little more your speed, like an episode of Scooby-Doo.  

However, those that fit the aforementioned description and attempt to be brave enough to watch this film should bring a pair of diapers and a sick bag. This film takes everything special about the franchise and dials it up WAY past 11. It manages to be the perfect cocktail mix of the original film, Evil Dead 2, and Fede’s 2013 film. It has the hardcore bloody horror you’d expect but also a pinch of VERY dark humor mostly achieved through the twisted dialogue of the Deadites taunting their victims. There is no shortage of blood, guts, puke, and limbs in this one folks.

While some folks might be worried to have yet another entry in the franchise not written and directed by Sam Raimi and not starring Bruce Campbell as Ash, said people should keep in mind that like the 2013 film, Sam, Bruce, and original trilogy producer Rob Tapert, collectively hand-picked Lee Cronin just like they hand-picked Fede Alvarez and were all very much involved/hands-on with the film as producers. But Thankfully not too involved. The OG Evil Dead guys know what it’s like to have the powers that be over you get too involved and as a result have the finished product suffer for it. That’s not an issue here folks. Sam and Co. had complete faith in Lee’s vision for an Evil Dead story, and it paid off.

Lee does an absolute masterful job at being able to pay homage to what came before while also adding his own unique touch to the mix. Certain camera angles and tricks heavily associated with (and necessary to have) the franchise are present, but there are also some really cool and clever ways the camera is used that we haven’t seen before in the franchise, whether it’s how a shot is angled or how it’s frame. Some non-spoilery moments that come to mind are any scenes involving The Book of The Dead, and a pretty sweet sequence involving the apartment hallway and a peephole.  

The use of sound plays just as big of a role in this film as the camerawork. The film could seriously be an Oscar contender for the sound editing and mixing alone. You really hear and feel every wood creak, metal scrape, stone movement, blood splatter, and flesh rip throughout the film to the point where it feels like you’re actually in the movie fighting for your life alongside the characters. And the terrifying  score just amplifies things even more. The music feels like the perfect blend of what you’d here in the 2013 film mixed with Ash Vs Evil Dead and perfectly sets the tone for each and every scene.

One of the most interesting aspects about this film is that unlike 3 of the 4 past entries, this one takes the horror out of the cabin in the woods (though the cold open does give us a nice little taste of that) and into a crumbling, cramped, apartment high rise in Los Angeles. In a lot of ways the new setting manages to cleverly pay homage to the original cabin setting in a number of ways. The only non-spoiler example I can give is  how the front door to the main characters’ apartment is essentially like the cellar door of the cabin.

As mentioned earlier, this is another entry without Ash as the lead, but that doesn’t mean we’re without a totally badass character who becomes the hero. Beth (played by the amazing Lilly Sullivan) is a rock n’ roll band guitar technician (not to be confused with a groupie) who recently discovers some possibly troubling information for her. Unsure of what to do with said newfound info (again I won’t spoil things here) she pays a long overdue visit to her older sister Ellie (played by the incredible Alyssa Sutherland) who’s got her own hands full  with her 3 kids: Danny (Morgan Davies), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) and Kassie (Nell Fisher) in a cramped-up, run-down apartment building. The film does a great job of spending just enough time introducing these characters and getting to know them and what makes them tick in an effort to get you slightly attached to them, before all Hell breaks lose. And boy does all Hell break lose.  

In a very creative way, once the Book Of The Dead is discovered, some really cool lore gets lightly explored,  and the classic forbidden passages are spoken aloud, absolute carnage and mayhem ensue without ever letting up. You barely get a chance to breathe a sigh of relief and process the trauma of what just happened before the next terrifying moment. It simply DOES NOT LET UP and is unapologetic for it.

In a cruel twist of fate, Ellie gets possessed by the Kandarian Demon and unleashes an unholy assault on anyone she comes into contact with. Especially her kids. All the while “Auntie Beth” does her best to protect the kids from their own mother. This is one of the things that always makes the Evil Dead franchise truly interesting in terms of story: the psychological aspect of having to deal with a loved one getting possessed by a demon and dealing with them aggressively attacking you physically, emotionally, and mentally before ultimately trying to kill you. The average person isn’t going to realize they’re in a horror movie scenario. They’re going to be in disbelief and be unsure of what to do about a loved one, someone they trust, trying to kill them.

In summary, everything about this movie just works so well: the script, the directing, all the actors, the sound, music, and of course, the special effects. If The original Evil Dead had blood flowing down the screen and the 2013 film had it exploding off the screen, this one has the entire theater flooded with blood spilling out of the auditorium doors, down the halls, and into the concessions lobby.  

Evil Dead Rise firmly grips you by the shoulders, digging it’s long fingernails DEEP into your skin while violently shrieking in your face starring deep into your soon to be swallowed soul before puking blood all over you, menacingly cackling as you scream and occasionally laugh in terror while gripping your seat so tightly you’d pull your fingernails off. It shows no mercy and takes no prisoners.

The Evil Dead are back, and they’re here to collect a debt paid only by the blood-chilling screams and laughter of it’s audiences.

If you’re brave enough, Evil Dead Rise escapes into cinemas on April 21st.

Rating: 5/5

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